Open Threads

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Photo by J.B.


 Photos and Captions by Photographer Jenna Pope.

Today (7/25), about 200 people marched from the NY Public Library, through the streets of midtown, and ended up at the IDB Bank. IDB is an Israeli Bank that directly funds the occupation of Palestine, 20% owned by the State of Israel. Several activists participated in an act of civil disobedience by throwing fake blood on the windows of IDB, and then staging a sit-in on the sidewalk until they were arrested by police officers.

Posted by on in News & Analysis


by Nat Winn


Mobs surrounding buses of immigrants or standing in the street shouting “kill all Arabs!” They carry signs saying “return to sender.” They have gone as far as kidnapping and burning alive a young teenage boy. Now days, it's like the streets are infused with rabid dogs perceiving all the “others” they see as a great threat, while their own sick bodies slowly decay.

The anti-immigrant fervor in the U.S. is eerily similar to the anti-Arab pogroms being carried out in Israel, both things happening right now in real time in front of our teary, disgusted eyes.

More and more the demographic shifts in the world, the fluid flow of poor migrants across borders, and the demands of oppressed people for human dignity are being met with desperate fits of anger by right wing mobs willing to go into the streets to defend their relative privilege based on the color of their skin or their religious or ethnic identity.

Posted by on in International

One person and government that anti-tankies really don’t like is Kim Jong Un (김정은) and his Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea (DPRK). Despite the fact that the DPRK is the result of a socialist revolution, many on the left treat it as if it were straight fascism. It is a very regimented regime and lacks any real freedom or democracy.

The present ruler Kim Jong Un (김정은) uses the ideology of his father and grandfather as a guide for the country—Kim Jong Ilism((김정일) and Kim Il Sungism (김일성). The country is a throwback to the cold war, a country that never fell, as with Cuba. Unlike Cuba Kong Jong Il declared Marxist-Leninism obsolete and replaced it by the ideology of the Juche as interpreted by the elder Kims.

I don’t believe Kim Jong Il is a bad writer, even though it is limited in its appeal to those outside of Korea. DPRK is not really a one party state, but a coalition of parties. The Workers' Party of Korea is the main party, but Korean Social Democratic PartyCheondoist Chongu Party and General Association of Korean Residents in Japan are all legal.

As with the last article:

Kaitlin Ulyanov “We should support the working class struggles within countries which are targets of imperialism. The best way, ultimately the only way to fight imperialism is though class struggle. In countries where there isn't a coherent or effective left advocate independent working class politics and demands, such as Ukraine (the Ukrainian CP are pro-Russian, voted against allowing protests, I don't know much about Borotba, what I hear they don't sound much better) we can raise the slogan of independent working class politics as a nucleus to build a movement.”

Again; how do we determine what the people of this government really want? There is no organized opposition. Since this country went through a socialist revolution shortly after World War II, will the people be willing to support another worker’s state or will the majority want to imitate their neighbor to the south.

If this government is as repressive as its critics claim, a simple revolution might send it right into the US imperialist camp. That is a real possibility. There is a logic to a complete rejection of a political system if it is repressive, but examples in East Europe—Germany, show us what kind of negative things can happen when such a government implodes. If we want to see what would happen if DPRK collapsed, East Germany is a good place to look. And it is likely that events similar to that would happen if the tankies get their way and help bring down DPRK.

Posted by on in Uncategorized

This article was originally published at Open Media Boston. It is republished here with slight edits.

By Enaa

As I write this, the Israeli Defense Forces have begun a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. I am a  secular Jew, and myself along with millions of other Jews, hear that the state of Israel which claims to speak and act in our name - is now indiscriminately bombarding and murdering Palestinians. What stand should we take? What is the right and the wrong? The reactions among the apologists for Israel, Jewish and non-Jewish, Democrat and Republican, are to be expected: support for Israel's offensive against “terrorists” and “extremists.” Israel is praised for “showing restraint” and its “purity of arms.” After all, this is only natural for the “only democracy in the Middle East” which shares “our values.” And none of this whitewashing for Israeli colonialism should be surprising to anyone. We are under no illusions – they are forthright about where they stand.

Terror & lies: Israel unleashes brutal pogrom against Gaza

“Free Free Palestine! Down Down Israel!”

by ISH

Wednesday's direct Israeli hit on four young children playing football on a Gaza beach tells a story.

It epitomizes the entire disgusting episode in occupied Palestine that has unfolded since the collapse of so-called peace talks earlier this year. Western journalists witnessed the precision targeting of the four children by the Israeli naval forces who blockade the Gaza coastline. Pictures of the tiny torn bodies being carried away from the scene filled the internet.


The following article is A Word to Win News Service.

Palestine now: the situation and mood in the West Bank 

14 July 2014. A World to Win News Service. The following are edited notes of a conversation with three feminist academics who have just returned from a visit to occupied Palestine.

We arrived two days after the bodies of the three kidnapped settler youth were found. The Israeli authorities had been blockading Palestinian communities and arresting people before that, with the excuse that they were looking for the three, but after that it got worse. What we saw was collective punishment on a mass scale, resulting in the arrest of at least 700 people, many of whom had been in prison before. The security forces had lists of people they were looking for. These raids were a way of creating an atmosphere of terror.

Our first night was in East Jerusalem. Israeli settlers, in this case often recent immigrants from the U.S., as well Russia and Eastern Europe, are moving into Palestinian neighbourhoods and forcing the inhabitant out. Local Palestinians identified many of the settlers in the Old City as yeshiva (Jewish religious school) students. There are also whole families with young children. The women are in a "permanent state of pregnancy", with multiple young children in many families. 

The following article comes from Alakhbar English.

Israel’s "knock on the roof" policy: A three-minute race with death


A dozen rockets were fired across the Gaza-Israel border yesterday, while an Israeli was killed. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the death as a lame excuse to relaunch Operation Protective Edge and continue the relentless assault on the Gaza Strip.

He asserts that he has no choice but to retaliate. In his mind Hamas's actions mean a scuttling of the shaky cease-fire, a cease-fire which Hamas has only just now learned about.

Contrast that single Israeli causality, however tragic, with the overall death toll from Israel's brutal military campaign against the Palestinian people: 194+ people, many of them innocent men, women, and children unaffiliated with Hamas finding themselves caught in the crossfire. [1]

Tagged in: Gaza Israel Palestine

Posted by on in International

Among the Marxist Revolutionary left are idealistic people who are extremely critical of people and groups, such as the Workers World Party, who support anti-imperialist, by supporting repressive governments. They use the term “tankies” to describe these folks. The term tankie probably goes back the picture of the Chinese protester who stood in front of a tank prior to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Some Marxist did support the Chinese crackdown on Tiananmen Square. But the tankie label is put on the support of any government the anti-tankies deem unacceptable and that actually includes almost all of them in the world today.

Today the most common target of the anti-tankies are people or groups who support Bashar Hafez al-Assad,(بشار حافظ الأسد) the President of Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kim Jong Un (김정은) and his Democratic People’s Republic of (North) Korea.

I found the following argument on a facebook page:

Kaitlin Ulyanov “We should support the working class struggles within countries which are targets of imperialism. The best way, ultimately the only way to fight imperialism is though class struggle. In countries where there isn't a coherent or effective left advocate independent working class politics and demands, such as Ukraine (the Ukrainian CP are pro-Russian, voted against allowing protests, I don't know much about Borotba, what I hear they don't sound much better) we can raise the slogan of independent working class politics as a nucleus to build a movement.”

Tagged in: strategy

Posted by on in Uncategorized

“Peoples do not judge in the same way as courts of law; they do not hand down sentences, they throw thunderbolts; they do not condemn kings, they drop them back into the void; and this justice is worth just as much as that of the courts.”

― Maximilien de Robespierre

Wallace Shawn is a world famous actor and playwright. He has starred in multiple roles in the Princess Bride, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Toy Story and Gossip Girl. Aside from such roles, Shawn is also a life-long socialist. In the excerpt from his play "The Fever" reprinted below, Shawn gives a succinct explanation of Marx's theory of commodity fetishism.


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One day there was an anonymous present sitting on my doorstep—Volume One of Capital by Karl Marx, in a brown paper bag. A joke? Serious? And who had sent it? I never found out. Late that night, naked in bed, I leafed through it. The beginning was impenetrable, I couldn't understand it, but when I came to the part about the lives of the workers—the coal miners, the child laborers—I could feel myself suddenly breathing more slowly. How angry he was. Page after page. Then I turned back to an earlier section, and I came to a phrase that I'd heard before, a strange, upsetting, sort of ugly phrase: this was the section on "commodity fetishism," "the fetishism of commodities." I wanted to understand that weird-sounding phrase, but I could tell that, to understand it, your whole life would probably have to change.

His explanation was very elusive. He used the example that people say, "Twenty yards of linen are worth two pounds." People say that about every thing that it has a certain value. This is worth that. This coat, this sweater, this cup of coffee: each thing worth some quantity of money, or some number of other things—one coat, worth three sweaters, or so much money—as if that coat, suddenly appearing on the earth, contained somewhere inside itself an amount of value, like an inner soul, as if the coat were a fetish, a physical object that contains a living spirit. But what really determines the value of a coat? The coat's price comes from its history, the history of all the people involved in making it and selling it and all the particular relationships they had. And if we buy the coat, we, too, form relationships with all those people, and yet we hide those relationships from our own awareness by pretending we live in a world where coats have no history but just fall down from heaven with prices marked inside. "I like this coat," we say, "It's not expensive," as if that were a fact about the coat and not the end of a story about all the people who made it and sold it, "I like the pictures in this magazine."



This article is from A World to Win News Service.



Israel: An atrocious, murdering state


7 July 2014. A World to Win News Service. Three Israeli youths, Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaer, both 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, were kidnapped near the West Bank city of Hebron 12 June and subsequently murdered. On 2 July, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdair was kidnapped in Jerusalem and burned alive. In both cases, Israel manifested the vicious and loathsome essence of the guiding Zionist principle it openly proclaims, that no law or morality is higher than the maintenance of a Jewish state in Palestine.

No matter who was responsible for the death of the three settler teenagers, the Israeli government treated it as a godsend for their project. Their concern was not so much to find the killers – the government claimed it knew who they were and was certain about their affiliation with Hamas – but to take it as a pretext to impose collective punishment on Palestinians within the borders of Israel and on the West Bank, and to justify their attacks on Gaza.

Posted by on in Culture

For more of the work of Stephanie McMillan see here.

Posted by on in Immigrants

Something significant is happening at the US-Mexico border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico are being detained at border camps under unspeakable conditions. US politicians from liberal to conservative have all urged that these children be thrown back "from where they came from." Reactionary politicians are talking about the threat from "diseased children." White fascist mobs have blockaded busloads of immigrants in California.

So-called immigration reform appears stalled in US congress, as the politicians cannot agree whether it's better to use immigrants to whip up xenophobia or more advantageous to create a category of second-class citizenship. Meanwhile President Obama, who claims compassion for the so-called immigrant "dreamers" (undocumented immigrants brought to this country while still children), has earned the title "Deporter-in-Chief" by deporting over two million people.

This crisis calls out for a response from the revolutionary left. We should be protecting our brothers and sisters — with or without papers — from the racist mobs, and working to protect the rights and livelihoods of immigrants being targeted for expulsion or persecution. Below are two reports from journalist James North on the roots of the child immigrant crisis. If you have information to share with Kasama readers on organizing efforts or mobilizations in support of the children refugees or other immigrants, please post links in the comments section.


Originally published at Red Wedge.

By Joseph Ramsey

Brian Dolinar opens The Black Cultural Front: Black Writers and Artists of the Depression Generation (University Press of Mississippi, 2012) by quoting not from a major artist or critic, but from a virtually forgotten participant in a long-dismembered radical organization, an audience member at a panel about “Culture” held by the National Negro Congress of 1940.  During the lively discussion that followed the official presentations, a woman identified in the proceedings only as “Mrs. Lynch” spoke up, reminding the room that the cultural front mattered because “it is the cultural things that keep us from going stark crazy” (3).[1]

It’s a poignant opening, and one that indicates Dolinar’s anti-elitist approach. To be sure, The Black Cultural Front is a study concerned with interpreting the work of three important writers and artists, figures who were swept up and shaped by the mid-20th century movement for social justice — Langston Hughes, Chester Himes, and Oliver Harrington.  But it is also a book committed to presenting mid-20th century Black Left culture more broadly as a “down to earth” matter, a matter of sustaining organizations and struggles, a pragmatic practice of engaging everyday people, of helping them to survive in dangerous and shifting circumstances.  Dolinar is well aware that without the “Mrs. Lynches” of the world — the “no name” participants, so often lost to official history — there are no social movements to speak of (let alone writers or artists or critics to represent them).


" was discovered that one of the authors of the [Facebook] platform’s mind study, Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell University, also received funding from the Pentagon’s so-called Minerva Research Initiative to conduct a similar study entitled ‘Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes’."

Originally posted at Russia Today.

Facebook's experiment on over half-a-million unsuspecting users has taken a new twist with the revelation that a researcher connected to a Department of Defense-funded program to use the military to quell civil unrest also participated in the study.


As people “call each other out” to a chorus of finger snapping, we seem to be rapidly losing all sense of perspective and instead of building alliances, we are dismantling hard fought for coalitions...

Is this the way the world ends? When groups that share common cause, utopian dreams and a joined mission find fault with each other instead of tearing down the banks and the bankers, the politicians and the parliaments, the university presidents and the CEOs? Instead of realizing, as Moten and Hearny put it in The Undercommons, that “we owe each other everything,” we enact punishments on one another and stalk away from projects that should unite us...

This article has been circulating as part of a wider criticism of call-out culture with in the U.S. left. Without endorsing all of its politics, we think it valuable to make available here on Kasama. It first appeared on Bully Bloggers.



by Nat Winn

Ann Coulter, the reactionary media  talking head claims in a recent article that any growing interest in soccer and the FIFA World Cup in the United States “can only be a sign of the country's moral decay.”

She goes on to blame such decay on the demographic shifts caused by Ted Kennedy's immigration law in 1965. This after going on a prolonged anti-women rant about the lack of masculinity and room for individual achievement on this “foreign” sport of soccer.

Well Coulter is right about one thing.

The United States is changing. And it is overt and in your face that people like Ann Coulter feel fearful, angry, and threatened about it.

 by Nat Winn

ISH recently posted an article on the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court which allowed certain businesses to deny covering birth control expenses to women workers. The article raised a few questions for me about what this decision might reflect.

ISH writes: